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N'Orleans Po'Boy Place LLC v. Culinary Construction Co LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 12, 2018

N'ORLEANS PO'BOY PLACE LLC, ET AL
v.
CULINARY CONSTRUCTION CO LLC, ET AL

         SECTION "L" (4)

          ORDER & REASONS

         Before the Court are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss, R. Docs. 6 & 7. Plaintiffs respond in opposition, R. Docs. 12 & 13. Having heard oral argument and considered the parties' briefs and the applicable law, the Court issues this Order & Reasons.

         I.BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs N'Orleans Po'Boy Place LLC (“NOPP”) and N'Orleans Krewe Kitchen LLC (“NOKK”) bring this lawsuit against Defendants for alleged violations of business agreements, the Louisiana Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. R. Doc. 1-1 at 10-11. Plaintiffs allege that since 2015 they have been working to develop a New Orleans themed restaurant franchise. R. Doc. 1-1 at 3. Plaintiffs allege that in 2016 they began working with Defendants Culinary Construction Co, LLC (“CCCo”) and DavCo Restaurants LLC (“DavCo”) to develop and market the restaurants. R. Doc. 1-1 at 3-4. Plaintiffs entered into agreements with CCCo and DavCo in 2016. R. Doc. 1-1 at 4. During this period Plaintiffs disclosed proprietary information to CCCo and DavCo. R. Doc. 1-1 at 5.

         Plaintiffs now allege that Defendants CCCo and DavCo have terminated business dealings with Plaintiffs and are using Plaintiffs' proprietary information to open a restaurant substantially identical to the restaurant developed by Plaintiffs. R. Doc. 1-1 at 9. Plaintiffs allege that these actions violate their business agreements, the Louisiana Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. R. Doc. 1-1 at 10-11. In addition to damages, Plaintiffs seek a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief. R. Doc. 1-1 at 11.

         Plaintiffs originally filed this lawsuit in state court. R. Doc. 1. Plaintiffs' request for a TRO was denied by the state court on May 16, 2018. R. Doc. 1-1 at 18-19. Defendant DavCo removed the case to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction on May 25, 2018. R. Doc. 1.

         II.PRESENT MOTIONS

         a. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction/Motion to Transfer (R. Doc. 6)

         Defendants DavCo NOPP, LLC (“DavCo NOPP”) and DavCo NOLA, LLC (“DavCo NOLA”) move to dismiss the claims against them for lack of personal jurisdiction or in the alternative transfer the claims to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. R. Doc. 6. First, Defendants DavCo NOPP and DavCo NOLA argue that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over them. R. Doc. 6-1 at 8. DavCo NOPP argues that it does not have sufficient contacts with Louisiana to establish specific jurisdiction because its only contacts are entering into an agreement with a Louisiana entity and having some representative visit Louisiana. R. Doc. 6-1 at 10-11. DavCo NOLA argues that it does not have sufficient contacts with Louisiana to establish specific jurisdiction because Plaintiffs have not alleged that it has any contacts with Louisiana. R Doc. 6-1 at 9.

         Second, Defendants DavCo NOPP and DavCo NOLA argue in the alternative that this Court should transfer the claims to Maryland. R. Doc. 6-1 at 16. They argue that the restaurant at issue is located in Maryland, the evidence and witnesses are located in Maryland, DavCo NOPP and DavCo NOLA are located in Maryland, and Maryland has more interest in the case than Louisiana. R. Doc. 6-1 at 16-17.

         Plaintiffs respond in opposition. R. Doc. 12. Plaintiffs argue that this Court can find specific jurisdiction over Defendants DavCo NOPP and DavCo NOLA because they “pursued a business relationship” with Plaintiffs in Louisiana and the restaurant is New Orleans themed. R. Doc. 12 at 14. Plaintiffs also argue that the Court can impute the contacts of the individual Defendants, who are the owners/operators of Defendants DavCo NOPP and DavCO NOLA, under the alter ego theory. R. Doc. 12 at 15. Plaintiffs ask if the Court needs more information that it allow for discovery on the issue of personal jurisdiction. R. Doc. 12 at 18.

         b. Defendants' Partial 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (R. Doc. 7)

         Defendants DavCo NOPP and DavCo NOLA move to dismiss several of Plaintiffs' claims against them for failure to state a claim. R. Doc. 7. ...


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